Ensalada Iberica

ensalada Iberica

Ensalada Iberica is the perfect accompaniment to last week’s Portuguese pork, because of its sweet base of oranges and dates, along with an abundance of piquant onions and lemon-vinaigrette.  This quick salad pleases our palettes.  Its strong combination of complimentary foods is additionally enhanced with the spice coriander, which is also a “seasoning match made in heaven” for pork, as noted by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page in Culinary Artistry; thus, these dishes balance each other, resulting in excellent flavors and joy unspeakable.1

During the 1980’s, my extensive cooking classes in Montana included a group of 12 professionals, all of whom were friends.  For years they came monthly for each new theme I presented.  We grew to love each other, as I taught them easy steps in making glorious food.  A grieving took place at our parting, brought on by my decision to move to Portland in February of 1986.

My strongest fan among them Larry organized a going-away party for me.  He chose an upscale Chinese restaurant, since a travel agent in the group had hoped to take me to China, to teach native foods on one of her tours.  At our celebration, they graciously presented me with a restaurant-caliber, 15 ½ x 10 ½ inch cake pan and stock pot, as seen in my photos; how these have blessed my work.

At one of our classes, someone encouraged me to consider the then new concept of computers for my work.  I responded that I will never do that, for it was beyond me.  Technology, however, has enabled the expansion of my endeavors beyond my imagination.

Back then I wrote everything out by hand, as I constantly discovered new themes from various cultures and ages.  All my research came from hard copies of books and publications; I searched for the sources of my inspiration at the local library, in an array of cook books, and in such publications as Montana newspapers, the New York Times, and numerous fashionable magazines.  My existence was marked by creativity, as I developed my faculty for research.  This skill was further honed in my graduate work at Portland State University, 1988-91.

Discovering truths in food history is what I do; it is essential that I know their validity.  As a result, to this day, I prefer to obtain my information from actual books, which possess a soundness that I trust over that of internet.

Both this and its subsequent post, on Portuguese foods, are from that early application of my studies in Montana.  These entries provide exceptional taste treats, enjoy.

  1. Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), pp. 159, 160, 268.

chopping orange segments

Ensalada Iberica  Yields: 5-6 servings.  Total prep time: 25 min.

Note: best to make and chill several hours before serving.

2 large oranges  (Organic is best for flavor and quality, as orange skins readily absorb pesticides; these are often available at a good price at Trader Joe’s.)

1 small/medium red onion, thinly sliced  (May use 2 small, organic cipollini onions; they are expensive, but so good!)

1 small can sliced ripe olives, net dr. wt. 2.25 ounces

1/2 cup pitted dates, packed down, cut in halves lengthwise  (About 1/3 pound is needed.)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice  ( 2-3 small lemons are needed.)

3/4 tsp salt, or to taste

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper, or to taste

1/4 tsp ground coriander

Bed of spinach leaves or lettuce

  1. easy juicing of lemons

    Peel oranges, divide them in half, cut each half cross-wise in half again, so it is easy to separate segments (see photo above).

  2. Peel and slice onions thinly.
  3. In medium bowl, combine oranges, onions, olives, and dates halves.
  4. Juice lemons with a hand-held juicer, watch market for this marvelous tool (see photo).
  5. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and coriander in a small sealed jar; shake vigorously; adjust seasonings.
  6. Pour over fruit, mix well, and refrigerate until serving time-preferably for several hours-so flavors can meld.
  7. Serve on a bed of spinach leaves or lettuce.
  8. This is a favorite of mine, which I have made since the early 1980’s.

Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad


sprouted quinoa and yam salad

sprouted quinoa and yam salad

A beloved friend from Montana sent me this healthy recipe, which I improved on.  It literally sings in your mouth!

I learned about quinoa from a woman that healed terminal illnesses with food.  She was on my sister’s prayer team many years ago.  People from all over the United States came for her healing ministry with diet.  Her culinary wisdom was a gold mine for Maureen and me!  Many things that I recommend originated with her.

We learned that sprouted quinoa was considered the number one power food on planet earth.  Eggs and quinoa are the only foods that have all the amino acids, thus making them a complete protein.

I was a vegetarian for six years in my twenties.  Back then, much of my knowledge for healthy eating came from the marvelous cookbook by Francis Moore Lappe, Diet for a Small Planet (New York: Ballantine Books, 1971).  These recipes utilized balanced combinations of plant foods and dairy.  The combining of their differing amino acids complimented each other to make complete proteins.  For instance, its memorable Indian Pudding called for a balance of cornmeal, soy grits, milk, and eggs to form a strong protein.  How I relished it hot, with rich vanilla ice cream melting around the edges!  I still do.

I was quite skilled in cooking this way in the 1970’s.  However, I started eating meat once again just prior to moving to Tokyo in the fall of 1981.  My father gently reproved me for waiting until then to do this, because beef was exorbitantly expensive in Japan, while being relatively cheap in America.  My thinking was that  I needed to be prepared for gracious Oriental hospitality.

Recently I prepared my Montana friend’s simple recipe for quinoa and yam salad. However I tweaked it!  Its food value is amplified by using what I learned from my sister’s prayer partner, the healer: here I sprouted this ancient grain from Peru, which increases its food value dramatically.  Also I worked with the colors of the foods (color is real important.)  I incorporated red raspberries, purple sweet potato, and orange carrots.  Another important recommendation is the use of coconut or avocado oil.  This is critical as olive oil is a carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.

This healthy salad is dynamite!  Make an abundance for leftovers.

Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad  Yields: about 4 servings.  Total prep time 2 days (for sprouting quinoa) and 1 hr; active prep time: 1 hr.

1 cup sprouted quinoa  (Directions are below-make 2 days ahead.)

1 tsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 medium yellow onion, halved at root and stem and cut in 1/8 inch slices

1 1/2 cup yam, peeled and cut in 5/8 inch cubes  (I like to use organic purple sweet potato; sweet potatoes and yams are just differing names for the same vegetable; they are interchangeable.)

2 medium carrots, cut in 5/8 inch cubes

2 stalks celery, cut in 5/8 inch cubes

3 large garlic cloves, chopped fine  (For easy preparation, may use 2 frozen garlic cubes from Trader Joe’s.)

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp Bragg’s Amino Acids  (Available in any health store.)

1 tbsp Real Maple Syrup

3/4 tsp dried cumin

Spinach or lettuce leaves

Fresh raspberries, or dried cranberries, to garnish

Agave-roasted nuts  (See recipe in ‘Healthy Green Salads’ post, 2016/08/15.)

  1. Soak quinoa in ample water for 8 hours; drain well and let sit for 1-2 days, rinsing about every 12 hours; the sprouting is complete when legs are at least 1/4 inch long.  This process may be done in a sprouting jar, a bowl, or on a tray-if your choice is a tray, use parchment paper both under and on top of the seeds.  Providing you are not ready to use sprouts immediately, using clean parchment paper, spread them on a tray or large plate to dry (be sure not to rinse again before you start this drying process, they should dry in about 12 hours).  You may then place in a sealed storage bag or jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.  This process brings the enzymes alive and increases food value dramatically!  (For more details on sprouting see wikihow.com/Sprout-Quinoa)
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium/low heat.  Add onion and carmelize, cook slowly until deep brown in color; stir every few minutes for first 30 minutes of cooking, or until onions begin sticking to bottom of pan and color just starts to turn; then, stir every minutes, as color changes more quickly; cook until dark brown.  For more detail on carmelizing onions, see Carmelized Onions and Carrots (2017/06/19).
  3. In the meantime, spray vegetables with a solution of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide.  Leave sit three minutes.  Rinse really well.  This kills parasites and cleanses inexpensively. Rather than peel, scrape carrots with a sharp knife to preserve vitamins just under the skin.  Peel yams.  Cut all vegetables into small, 5/8-inch cubes.
  4. Meanwhile combine lemon juice, Braggs, maple syrup, and cumin in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  5. Add vegetables to hot carmelized onions, stir well to distribute oils.   Add 1/4 cup water; cook covered for about 15 minutes, or until yams are tender; stir occasionally.
  6. Blend fresh garlic into vegetable mixture; sauté for about 15 seconds, or only until you can smell the herb.  If you are using frozen garlic, cook just until it thaws; stir well.  For more detail on cooking with garlic, see Tomato/Feta Chicken (2016/07/25).
  7. Place yam mixture and quinoa in bowl with salad dressing, mix well.  Chill several hours.
  8. Serve on a bed of lettuce or fresh spinach.
  9. Top with fruit and nuts.

Buzz’ Blue Cheese Dressing

Mom, my siblings, my great nephew, and me at Mom's 93rd birthday

my siblings, mother, great nephew, and me at Mom’s 93rd birthday

My heavenly Father bestowed the best parents in the whole world on me!   Many gifts have been mine through  them: the biggest from my earthly father was his grand heart, while Mom’s was her beautiful faith.

My 93-year old mother always responds to my gratitude for these holy blessings: “Your most treasured present to me was bringing my husband to the Lord.” This took place in a Starbucks two years before Dad passed.

My parents visited me in Portland every October starting in 1986, until age prohibited their travels.  The momentous day of my father’s salvation took place on their last trip here in 2004.  Note: the jubilance of my family’s holy reunion will reverberate throughout heaven one day soon.

My father and I hung out during their blessed visits, while Mom shopped ‘til she dropped.  My beloved papa always did one thing: he stocked my larder to the brim every year.  I hopefully anticipated this godsend long before their arrival, as times were lean back then.

Dad taught me how to make his famous blue cheese dressing during one of our hallowed, shared days.  It has graced my refrigerator ever since; there is nothing like it; even people who don’t like blue cheese love this!

Buzz’s recipe has a history. My parents purchased our family restaurant in 1954. Traveling salesmen often stopped at our business in the little tourist village of East Glacier Park, Montana, which is on Highway 2.  I was just approaching puberty in the early sixties, when one of these self-promoters sold Dad a mammoth cookbook for restaurant owners.  This huge culinary account was about 10 inches thick.  It contained all that was needed to train my father to flawlessly run his eatery, which grew exceedingly in fame over the years.  Thus a lone man’s fervid cold call brought a lifetime’s bounty to me and many others.

I share this magnificent recipe for blue cheese dressing with great joy!

easy juicing of lemons

Buzz’ Blue Cheese Dressing  Yields: about 1¾ quarts.  Total prep time: 30 minutes.

.5-.7 lb. blue cheese, frozen and thawed for easy crumbling  (For quality, do not use precrumbled cheese; Cave Age Blue Cheese from Trader Joe’s is ideal; keep thawed cheese refrigerated until ready to use.)

5 extra large cloves of garlic, or more if smaller, to taste

1/2 medium yellow onion, cut in large chunks

36 ounces Best Foods mayonnaise  (Use 1-30 ounce jar plus 1/5 of another jar.)

2 small lemons, juiced

3/4 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is best; available in health section of local supermarket.)

3/4 tsp fresh ground pepper, or to taste

1/2 tsp Tabasco Sauce, or to taste

1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce, or to taste

  1. Freeze blue cheese ahead of time; thaw in refrigerator before using; this makes crumbling very easy; keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  2. In a dry food processor, puree garlic and onions; stop processor and scrap down sides twice; set aside.
  3. Place mayonnaise in a large bowl.  (Keep empty mayonnaise jar.)  Slowly add onion/garlic mixture to mayonnaise to taste-this should taste REALLY strong as the flavor mellows much after several days.
  4. Roll lemons on counter, pressing down hard with palm of hand; this loosens the juices in the meat.  Juice fruit, straining seeds, and add to mayonnaise mixture.  (Handheld lemon juicers, such as the one in the above photo work really well.  Watch the marketplace to acquire this and a small strainer for bowl.)
  5. Season to taste with salt, pepper, Tabasco, and Worcestershire.
  6. Crumble blue cheese into mayonnaise mixture and stir gently, mixing only until blended.
  7. Adjust seasonings.
  8. Fill a sterilized, quart-size, wide-mouth canning jar with dressing.  Place the rest in the empty mayonnaise jar.
  9. Refrigerate. Keeps well.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Teaching my balsamic vinaigrette recipe

Teaching my balsamic vinaigrette recipe

I acquired my beloved vinaigrette recipe in enchanting Paris. There I learned the secrets to this simple receipt in the fall of 1985.

At that time I cooked many historical meals at a French friend’s apartment, close to the Louvre. Mornings found me seeking needed ingredients at a profusion of quaint Parisian shops. There was much mercy for my broken French among the shop owners, who grew to know me.

A flurry of grand entertainment resulted from the hosting of these elaborate meals. Our varied guests returned warm hospitality in their abodes on alternate nights. My passion for art galleries quickened during the days when they reciprocated our harmonious feasting.

Indeed, Paris charmed me during that September in the mid-1980s!

My balsamic vinaigrette is extremely simple. (We used raspberry vinegar for this same recipe in Paris.) I always dress my famous salads with this and my father’s blue cheese dressing, which is next week’s tantalizing post.

Peggy’s Balsamic Vinaigrette  May repeat these easy steps to make a double batch. Keeps well when refrigerated. Any kind of vinegar may be substituted for the balsamic. (Yields: about 2 cups per recipe.)

5 large cloves of garlic, peeled (or more to taste if smaller)

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar (for special occasions use that aged for 10 years-obtainable cheaply at Trader Joe’s)

1 tsp high quality mustard

3/4 tsp dried oregano leaves (a wonderful, inexpensive, organic dried oregano is available at Trader’s)

1 tsp dried basil leaves (also a bargain at Trader’s)

1/4 tsp sugar, or to taste

1/2 tsp salt (Real Salt is best, at hand in natural foods at local supermarket)

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

1 cup Bel’Olio Extra Light Olive Oil (purchasable at Costco-other olive oils are too strong in taste)

  1. Peel and cut garlic cloves in half. Place in a dry 11-cup, or larger, food processor. Chop garlic, stopping machine twice to scrape down sides. IF you are making two recipes, chop the garlic for both at once; set half aside. (Or chop cloves fine with a sharp knife, if you don’t have a food processor and are using a blender or Vitamix.)
  2. Add vinegar, mustard, herbs, sugar, salt, and pepper to the garlic.
  3. Turn on processor. Leave running.
  4. Fill the feeder with oil. (The feeder is the plunger that fits in the top of the food processor-it has a small whole in the bottom of it. This allows the oil to drip down into vinegar mixture slowly, thus emulsifying the dressing.) Use all the oil in this manner. If you are using a blender, be sure to add oil very slowly-blending as you go, to emulsify dressing.
  5. Adjust seasonings to taste. Note: the garlic should taste really strong, as it mellows dramatically after a couple of days.
  6. Pour into bottles, using a funnel. Save used glass jars for this purpose. Be sure to sterilize.
  7. Keeps in the refrigerator for months, or at room temperature for several weeks. It’s often necessary to leave dressing out at room temperature for at least an hour before using, when stored in the refrigerator.  This is because the cold oil sometimes solidifies. Hot tap water will melt the solid oil, also.

Healthy Green Salads

building a healthy salad

building a healthy salad

Strength-giving salads have been the mainstay of my evening meals for many years; they delight me. Recently I taught a class on how to maintain robust bodies by building wholesome salads. This next series spells pleasure in hearty recipes for glorious greens and more.  Here I begin with the basic steps for creating these leafy dishes.

Healthy Salads

A variety of vibrant greens are good for the body. Spinach is high in iron, but too much of this raw vegetable is not wise.  So balance raw and cooked spinach.  A little vitamin C (tomatoes, citrus, pineapple, etc.) helps the absorption of the iron.

Beef or chicken can be added.  These meats are high in iron and protein.  Good quality eggs, beans, tuna, and cheese are also excellent protein sources.

Dried fruit (dates, cranberries, apricots, figs, raisins…organic is best) add a beautiful contrast of sweetness.  Avocados are dynamite!

Choose an assortment of fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, radishes, bell peppers, etc.  It’s important to use organic peppers, as this vegetable really absorb pesticides.   Organic carrots are really inexpensive.

Roasted agave nuts (see recipe below) and homemade croutons (see recipe below) add texture and protein.  Note: organic bread is a good protein source.

Nourishing homemade dressings save lots of money and explode with good flavor. (Recipes to follow in upcoming posts.)

Roasted Agave Nuts  Yields: 1 lb.  Total prep time: 50 min/  active prep time: 10 min/  baking time: 40 min.

  1. Buy 1 lb of an assortment of whole raw pecans, almonds, walnuts, and cashews in the bulk food section.  (Cashew pieces work well and are cheaper.)  I like to weigh out ¼ lb packages of each at the store.
  2. Preheat oven to 265 degrees.
  3. In a large bowl, pour 1/4 cup Organic Raw Blue Agave Sweetener.  (Available at a good price at Trader Joe’s.)  Blend in 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste) and 2 tsp cinnamon.
  4. Add 1 lb of mixed raw nuts.  Stir well, until all the nuts are coated.
  5. Cover an 11 ½ x 17 ½ cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Spray parchment really well with spray oil (Pam Coconut Spray Oil is best.)  This is essential, or nuts stick to the paper.
  6. Spread nuts evenly on oiled parchment.  Bake for 40 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven.  Sprinkle generously with salt WHILE HOT.  (Real Salt is best, available in the nutrition center of your local supermarket.)
  8. Nuts must be hot for salt to stick.  IF you forget to salt while hot, place them in hot oven again, until they are reheated.  Then salt and cool.  Break apart and store in sealed container at room temperature. Keeps well.

Homemade Croutons  Yields: 1/2 gallon bag.  Total prep time: about 90 min/ active prep time: 15 min/  baking time: about 75 min.  Note: may dry bread out for 8 hr ahead of time.

  1. May use gluten-free, homemade, or Dave’s Killer Bread. (I grind my own organic wheat berries for my bread.  However, I prefer Dave’s Killer Bread for my croutons.  This organic bread makes an excellent crouton, which is also high in nutrients and protein.  Be sure to get “regular cut”, not “thin cut”.)
  2. Make sure bread is stale.  May partially dry by leaving it exposed to the air for up to 8 hours.  If not ready to bake immediately, you may store stale bread in a sealed plastic bag after drying.  Don’t get bread super stale, or the butter won’t distribute evenly.  Expose slices for about 8 hours in the humid Northwest.  Adjust time for a drier climate.  Bread should be somewhat dried out, firm to the touch, but not hard.
  3. Preheat oven to 265 degrees.
  4. Cut bread in cubes.  Use 1/2 of 1 lb loaf of bread for one large cookie sheet.
  5. Melt 6 ounces of butter in a large frying pan.
  6. Add 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or more if you like spice.  Stir in 1 tsp salt, or to taste.  (Real Salt is best.)  Mix seasoning well in melted butter.
  7. Add bread cubes.  Stir thoroughly, until bread is fairly evenly coated.
  8. Place bread cubes on an 11 ½ x 17 ½ inch cookie sheet, distributing evenly so heat can reach all.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes.  Check for dryness; if not crunchy, bake for 15 more minutes.  Repeat this last step until croutons are completely dried.
  10. Cool and store at room temperature in a sealed gallon-size storage bag.  They keep indefinitely.